Encouraging Words Go a Long Way

I recently got some encouraging words from Brady on my last blog post.

It’s been almost 2 years (maybe 3) since I’ve first read the first edition of ‘Verve Stones’ and I can say with confidence that I am just as excited for the next book. After rereading the book again this summer, I can’t wait for the next book! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy the little things as you have been.

Brady’s comment warmed my heart. (Thanks, Brady!) I’ve been waking up early a (between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m) to carve out writing time all summer. The BACK OF BEYOND is lightyears better. I’m a third of the way through Robin’s edits. Somehow, I will find times to write during the first couple months of school!

It’s inspiring to know I have such a dedicated reader rooting for me! I cannot tell you how grateful it makes me feel.

What encouraging words have you experienced? Leave your comments below.

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Progress is Being Made

Things are moving forward on BACK Of BEYOND (LEGOND OF SPOON BOOK 2), never as fast as my readers wish, or more accurately I wish, but I’m making progress. The voices in my head keep berating me that I should have published this book a year ago. They are loud and overwhelming. <insert frustrated groan> Actually, I don’t really groan. I’m more of a quiet sulker, but I digress. I’m doing my best to transform my attitude from negative to positive even though this is no easy task. I’m making progress and that’s always a good thing. Like most people, writers are too hard on themselves. Is there a small success you should be celebrating instead of berating yourself? Please share below.

I’m Back to Writing

Robin Puelma returned my second set of edits and feedback over a month ago. My excuses for not diving in as soon as possible include the Seahawks, fantasy football, school stuff, spending time with friends, rewatching The West Wing with my lovely wife, walking to the park with my daughter, and a lot of family time. I’ve reached the part of the school year where I don’t need to stare at a wall every night to recover the energy I lost teaching third graders in the middle of a school remodel. (So glad to finally have finally passed the “beginning of the school year exhaustion” and happy that my classroom remodel is almost done!) I can’t spend the hours on it that I want to, but I can now at least squeeze in ten minutes of editing here and a thirty minutes of revising there!

Things I’m looking to make happen in my writing world:

First, placing UNDER, NINTH NIGHT, and VERVE STONES on the local author’s shelf at the Lacy Timberland Library. Next, finishing Robin’s feedback and changes and sending the polished draft to another friend who wants to edit and revise. Last, I’m very excited to share the finished BACK OF BEYOND’s cover finished art from Jake at J Celeb Design. He created my VERVE STONE cover art. He outdid himself with his new latest cover. Truly, it is always even better than I can imagine (and I imagine it being very cool).

Do you have a time of year that you are least productive? Fall is obviously mine! I am so glad that that time is passing.

Superhero Stories in Disguise

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I believe many popular shows, movies, and books are superpower stories in disguise.

I LOVE superpowers! I grew up watching Spiderman, Batman, and the X-men cartoons just to name a few (otherwise the list would be too long). I wait eagerly for Superhero movies to be released and try to watch them in theaters as soon as they come out. I have always enjoyed learning how each hero got their powers. I am captivated by the evolution of the characters, watching them fail, train, and then grow into the heroes they needed to be to save the day. I love superheroes so much that my wife helped me decorate my classroom with a superhero theme. (She has tried to decorate it in all sorts of things before, but cutesy doesn’t work for me. This is much more my style! Thanks, Wifey!)

Every super hero has an origin story depicting how they obtained superpowers. Spiderman received his powers from a radioactive spider. Wonder Woman discovers she’s a demigod. Tony Stark keeps shrapnel out of his heart by building an arc-reactor that he later uses to power a suit of armor. Captain America receives super soldier serum. Batman trains his mind and body in order to gain superhero abilities. You get the idea.

I see other popular shows, movies, and books in the same light. In Harry Potter, characters use wands to produce superpowers. The Lord of the Rings, the rings of power give their wearers superpowers. The Stormlight Chronicles have superpowers in the form of shardblade or bonding with a spren. Mistbornhas superpowers from burning metals in their bodies. Naruto uses chakra. Gummy Bears use gummy bear juice. Ninja Turtles use ooze. Dragon Ball Z uses ki. I could go on and on. I have a feeling I could find superpowers even in some of those cheesy Hallmark movies my wife watches.

My love of superpowers means that I can’t help but have them in my stories, too. When I go to write a story, they are usually the first thing I research. I create worlds and storylines with superpowers in mind. In VERVE STONES, rare characters can access verve stones which give a variety of superpower abilities. In NINTH NIGHT, I included the mystery of a mythological creature so there is at least a possibility of a superpower. In UNDER, Boyd uses a superpower from the Glide-Suits. In a story in production, superpowers are passed down from descendants. For example, King Midas passes on his golden touch.

I nerd out about superheroes. What is your thing? What could you talk for hours on end about?

Actual Ending

So excited BACK OF BEYOND has an actual real life ending! No jarring cliffhanger without a resolution for a rookie writer like in VERVE STONES. A climax that provides resolution to Spoon’s dilemma, wraps most plot points, and gently lays the groundwork for THE LEGEND OF SPOON #3. Now to send it to Robin Puelma for revisions and editing to see if she agrees.

Does This Happen to Anyone Else?

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Writer’s block is the real deal. My most common form of writer’s block is simply letting myself get distracted.

I’m two and a half chapters away from finishing my latest draft of BACK OF BEYOND. Two and a half chapters! This should be a cause for celebration. I should be dancing in the streets. I’m so close. A few hours from finishing. Yet, I can’t convince myself to finish the story.

This reminds me of when report cards are due in a week. All I ever want to do is reorganize my math manipulatives, deep clean student cubbies, and organize my classroom library. Anything and everything except completing those report cards.

I’m experiencing the same predicament. I’m completing home projects, researching practice bass amps, selling items on marketplace, and writing blog posts when I should be finishing the final chapters!

Does this happen to anyone else? If so, any tips to help me get done what I actually need to do? Thanks for commenting!

My Writing Habits this Summer Break

img_6586As an elementary school teacher, I’m blessed with a sizable chunk of time off in the summer. These weeks I can enjoy camping, barbecuing, and vacationing with friends and family. I also have a lengthy list of chores to accomplish. Thankfully I am able to get in some good writing time. Writing over the summer fills me with joy because I feel like I’m a career author.

This summer, I’ve found I do my best writing between 6:30 and 8:00 AM. Writing magic happens the moment my loopy-morning-brain is infused with a cup of coffee. This combination allows my creativity to flow. I also type far more words per minute than any other time of my day. It’s amazing!

Currently, I’m three chapters away from finishing my current draft of BACK OF BEYOND. I’m wrapping up Spoon’s dilemma and planting seeds that will grow within THE LEGEND OF SPOON #3. I can’t wait for everyone to read this book.

When are you most productive? Do you get time off to enjoy summer? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your answers in the comments below.

Question: BACK OF BEYOND

Brady asked, “How is Back of Beyond looking? I’m just itching to read more of The Legend of Spoon!”

I wish I could say it’s ready today. Best guess, four to six months. I’m making changes to the last few chapters, which I’m working on most mornings. I’m going to have my friend, author, Robin Puelma, read it over again. Then I will make any changes needed before I have two more friends read it over. These edits can take three weeks to three months each. I am super excited for this next book! Hopefully, the final edits will go faster than expected. They often do. Thank you for your patience! I’m working hard to finish BACK OF BEYOND, even while I’m on summer vacation with my family. I have it formatted and the cover complete so when editing is finished, I’ll be able to publish it quickly.

When reading a new series, I hate waiting for the next book to come out. When I first started reading Harry Potter, only the first few books were out. It was torture waiting for the next book! What books have you found yourself waiting impatiently for the next in series?

 

Anyone Else Feel This Way?

No matter how many times I send them to Dustin, Dawn, Taylor, or Robin. No matter if it’s a first or final draft. I always think my latest draft is perfect. This draft is a best seller. I justify my overactive pride with the fact I’ve been writing for a hobby since 2006. My skills have improved immensely. I’ve finally figured out this writing thing. Then a friend returns the draft with more red text than black.

I crash back to earth a few days later. I read their comments first. Try to take in everything without getting upset. Some feedback is in areas I knew needed to be fixed. Most are changes I never noticed. Ones that totally enhance the story. Or edits which keep me from writing like one of my third graders.

What I’m trying to say is thank you to my friends who edit my drafts. Without you, VERVE STONES, NINTH NIGHT, UNDER, and BACK OF BEYOND would never exist!

Venting

Plugging away on BACK OF BEYOND. To be honest, I’m feeling frustrated. It’s been almost three years since I self-published VERVE STONES. I wrote over half of BACK OF BEYOND years before that date. I desperately want to finish. My students, friends, and family keep asking me if I’m finished yet. I can see the end of the draft even if not far, far off.

Self-publishing takes me a very long time. Especially because my AMAZING FRIENDS have to take time out their own busy lives to edit my work. My manuscripts always require a great of improvements. Staring at the incredible cover by Jake doesn’t help either.

I daydream about being an author full time. Writing for hours each day instead of minutes. Having editors to burden with my drafts instead of friends. Being able to finish several other picture books, stories, and series I started and never have time to write. My job, friends, family, and God come before writing. I will keep praying this can be my job instead.

Time to get back to work.